Meatballs with Coconut Curry

Recipe for The Daring Kitchen
Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.
When tasked with creating a curry from Southern India or Sri Lanka, I decided to take cues from our host, Mary Mary Culinary, and do a little research to put a happy spin on my recipe for The Daring Kitchen. Her Sri Lankan coconut curry was divine – a blend of chilies, tamarind, fresh curry leaves and coconut milk simmered with cubes of tender lamb. I found that because of the Dutch settlers in Sri Lanka, there were several dishes that formed from the hybrid of cultures. One was the use of meatballs in various curries and baked dishes. Given that I am a lover of the meatball in all forms and ethnic spins, I decided to take Mary’s curry and marry (ha!) it with a meatball.

This recipe is all about using wholesome ingredients and creating your flavors from scratch. You’re toasting and grinding spices, leveraging fresh curry leaves instead of a powder, and blending the meat with aromatic onions, garlic and ginger. It may seem a serious job as you shop and cook, but the resulting curry has a depth of flavor that will make you a convert, dried spice mixes be damned.

Meatballs with Coconut Curry

3 lbs. of ground lamb or beef (or a blend)
2 onions, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch of ginger, minced
2 1/2 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of black pepper
1/2 tsp. of garlic powder
1 c. of bread crumbs
3 eggs

3 tbs. of uncooked rice
3 tbs. of coriander seeds
3 tsp. of cumin seeds
1 3-4in. piece of cinnamon

2 tbs. of vegetable oil
20 curry leaves (fresh or frozen)
3 jalapenos, finely chopped
3 onions, finely chopped
3 tsp. of turmeric
3 tsp. of ground cardamom
3 tsp. of ground black pepper
3 tsp. of salt
2 cans of coconut milk
3 tablespoons of tamarind paste
1 c. of water

With your hands or in a standing mixer, mix the ground meat, onions, garlic, ginger, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, eggs and bread crumbs. Use a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop out portions of meat and roll into balls. Place on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven on 400° for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit while you make your curry.

In a small dry skillet, toast the uncooked rice, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and cinnamon until fragrant and rice turns slightly golden. Let cool a bit and then grind in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat the oil and add the onions and jalapenos. Cook until onion is translucent, and then add the curry leaves, cardamom, black pepper and salt. Cook until fragrant and then add the coconut milk, tamarind paste, water and reserved spice mixture. Bring to a rolling boil and then add the meatballs. Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes, or until flavors are well combined. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.